Pre-Trial Detention Under the Young Offenders Act: A Study of Urban Courts

2. The Pre-Trial Detention Process (cont'd)

2. The Pre-Trial Detention Process (cont'd)

2.4 Charges on which Young Persons were Detained [20]

The charges on which the young persons were detained or not detained by the police and the court are shown in Table 2.8. [21] Robbery, indictable property offences other than break and enter, indictable drug offences, and administration of justice offences other than probation breach were more likely to involve police detention. A large difference was found in the hybrid (i.e., less serious) property offence category. These charges were more likely to fall into the "not detained" group (37 versus 16 percent for police detention). With regard to court detention, youth accused of hybrid property and person offences were more likely to be in the "not detained" group whereas youth charged with administration of justice offences other than probation breach more likely to be detained.

Table 2.8

The most serious charge at apprehension or arrest was closely associated with the police decision to detain (Table 2.9). Young persons accused of indictable drug offences, mainly trafficking, were most likely to be detained (84 percent), followed by indictable charges against the person (76 percent) and administration of justice charges excluding probation breaches (74 percent). Hybrid property charges were least likely to precipitate pre-trial detention by police (26 percent).

Table 2.9

The differences by charge type are not as marked at the court decision stage. Among those charged with offences against the person, 41 percent of indictable but only 26 percent of hybrid person cases were detained after a judicial interim release hearing. Among those charged with offences against the rights of property, there was less difference - 37 percent of indictable compared to 31 percent of hybrid cases involved detention. Breach of probation charges were much less likely than other charges against the administration of justice to receive detention (24 compared to 57 percent).

Thus, police were most likely to hold young persons charged with serious drug offences, followed by those accused of serious person offences and offences against the administration of justice such as failure to comply with an undertaking. The court detention decision showed a different pattern; drug charges were least likely of the indictable cases to result in court-ordered detention, and failure to attend court or to comply with bail conditions as well as other justice-related offences such as escape custody involved detention in larger proportions than did indictable person charges. Probation breaches were the least likely to result in detention after a bail hearing.


  • [20] See also Sections 3 and 4.
  • [21] The "most serious" charge is based on the categorization of the offence in the Criminal Code. If there was more than one charge at the initial arrest, the most serious was selected. In order from most to least serious the offences are: indictable offence against the person, indictable offence against property, indictable drug offences, hybrid offences against the person, hybrid (and a few summary) offences against property, other almost all victimless offences, breach of probation, and all other offences against the administration of justice. This hierarchy is a rough approximation of the seriousness of the offence.
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